The macOS Ventura public beta is here. These are our favorite lesser-known features


 The macOS Ventura public beta is here.  These are our favorite lesser-known features

Macs running macOS Ventura.
Enlarge / Macs running macOS Ventura.


Apple today released the betas for its next major operating systems to the public, making it relatively easy for adventurous users to download and install raw versions of the software, which will begin powering Macs, iPhones, iPads, and other devices sometime this fall take care of .

We’ll be posting full reviews of these new operating systems when they’re officially released, but for Mac users looking to jump into the public betas today, we’ll be covering some macOS Ventura features that we learned about in our time with the developers- Betas (the first public beta build is roughly equivalent to the third developer beta build released last week).

Rather than focusing on high-profile changes like Continuity Camera, search improvements, Passkeys, or the revamped Settings app, we’ve focused on smaller but still significant tweaks, including some that show us where Apple is trying to take the Mac to the next years.

The public betas for iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and other updates can be installed on supported hardware using the Apple documentation here. As with installing beta software, proceed with caution – make sure you have recent backups of your important files and consider using test hardware rather than installing the betas on systems you rely on daily leaving.

Faster, seamless security updates

Apple’s long list of Ventura features is called Rapid Security Response and aims to give Apple a way to provide smaller, more timely updates to macOS that don’t require a system restart. But what does that mean exactly?

To install such updates, Ventura makes some additions to Big Sur’s Signed System Volume (SSV) security feature. In summary, the SSV includes almost all macOS system files, and your Mac is only allowed to boot and run if the volume’s signature indicates that nothing on the SSV has been modified or tampered with in any way. When updates are installed, the SSV is mounted in the background, files are patched, a new cryptographic signature is created for verification at the next boot, and a snapshot of this newly signed volume is created for use at the next computer boot.

To allow some minor updates to be installed without rebooting, Ventura uses separate “Cryptex” disk images for some apps and operating system files. As described by an anonymous Twitter firmware engineer @never_releasedmacOS treats Cryptex images as extensions of an existing volume. These images can be opened and modified independently of the SSV, but for macOS and most of its apps, they appear as part of the system volume like any other system file.

Ventura will be able to patch apps and other system files residing in these cryptex images without having to touch the SSV, including Safari, WebKit and JavaScript-related frameworks and others. This eliminates the need for a lengthy installation process and reboot while retaining the security benefits of SSV for most system files. Whether this will actually result in faster or more frequent security patches remains to be seen. Major updates, including (presumably) major updates like 13.1 or 13.2, will most likely continue to use the current reboot-required approach.

Beyond the System Settings app

The Mac’s new System Preferences app completely replaces the old System Preferences app and is probably the single biggest change the app has seen since the early days of Mac OS X. But work on long-standing parts of the system UI doesn’t stop there.

For example, Ventura has also completely redesigned macOS’ print dialog, dropping the multi-section dropdown menu in favor of a long page with multiple expandable sections, as well as a new independently scrollable continuous preview column on the left. Apps with a page setup option also show the presence of an old friend, a slick, high-resolution version of Clarus the Dogcow. This goes back to the old LaserWriter days when Clarus served a similar purpose.

Font Book in Ventura switches to a tiled interface with quick visual previews of multiple fonts.
Enlarge / Font Book in Ventura switches to a tiled interface with quick visual previews of multiple fonts.

Andrew Cunningham

Ventura is also ushering in the largest redesign for Font Book since its inception in macOS 10.3, moving from a multi-column design that previews only a single font at a time to a more visually oriented grid of fonts that offers smaller previews of dozens of fonts fonts at once.

Unfortunately, Apple has not decided to rethink Everyone its old built-in macOS apps. If you were hoping for a TextEdit or Chess overhaul this year, you’ll have to keep waiting.

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